Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fast Isn't Always Great (Pacing, Part 1)

Some writers write so fast, you'd think they were racing on a deadly deadline that promised fatalities if they weren't met. Younger writers often try to emulate this example, of getting words out and having their ideas right down on paper immediately. These writers could end up disappointed and frustrated when they don't end up meeting the same word count quotas that faster writers do. They could end up giving up writing altogether, basing their decision on their inability to write fast enough.

Writing, however, is not about who produces the most words. Sometimes, writers just write fast and get their ideas into writing faster. Writing is not about speed, but sense; and if you are able to get enough sense into paper and write well so that you are understood, then you are a good writer, whether your work took you five years to write, or five minutes to simply cough out.

Try to erase that misconception, and change your mindset. Writing is all about pacing: when you sit down to write, don't expect to have the words flowing out of you immediately. Don't expect your work to be excellent even if you do spew out the words in record time. Writing is not about how much you write, but how much sense you make.

Moreover, when you do write your novel, don't push yourself into the “Must Make This Fast Paced” mindset. You could mistakenly rush your characters into plot lines that shouldn't even be rushed in real life, and you could end up writing a novel that is driven solely by its plot, with characters buffeted by the winds of change and floating about helplessly in their little worlds.

So slow down, and if you aren't producing words, don't despair. The best writing comes naturally, and whatever your pace is, meet it. If you feel that your mind is full of cobwebs, try one of the unblocker exercises on this site, or simply walk away and do something else. You want writing to be enjoyable, and you don't want to turn it into a task that will torture and burn you long before you can even produce your masterpiece.

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